Sun 26 June Northwood Won by 4 wkts
They 194/9 in 41.1 overs (Chris Sayers 59, Vikas Patel 28, Ben Sargeant 24*, Extras 29, Alex Tharakan 4/43, Hassan Hammad 3/70)
We 195/6 in 37.2 overs (Rohan Ghosh 53, Chris Ledger 30, Nitin Chaturvedi 29*, Rakteem Katakey 25, Ben Sargeant 2/26, Shabres Ganesh 2/50)
Before the toss, the Northwood skipper asked Nitin his preference and was surprised to hear that in a time game, and on a pretty decent track, he would field. For the record, the coin was flipped but the two skippers had figuratively shaken hands before with Northwood clearly preferring to bat.
Alex opened the bowling and struck in the first of 14 overs he would bowl that day. It was an early reminder of how lethal he is when he sticks to just short of good length in line with the wickets. From the other end, Hassan gave great support, and it was heartening to see one of the best bowling partnerships of the season keep Northwood batsmen tied down. Among the regular fall of wickets, Chris Sayers scored a classy half century before being bowled by Hassan in the second over of his second spell. Alex was persistently rooting out batsmen from the other end, with only Vikas Patel and Ben Sargeant providing any resistance. Alex and Hassan bowled 28 overs and picked up 7 wickets, with Harsha grabbed 5 victims. Northwood eventually declared at 194 for 9 off 41 overs.
With a strong batting line-up KCC set themselves 37 overs to chase this down. Rakteem and Harsha were off like a train, but both got out when in full swing. Chris Ledger and Rohan put on 52 runs to steady the ship until Chris and then Sarwar fell in quick succession with 85 runs still to go. Andy weighed in to keep Rohan company but departed for 18. Rohan completed a solid half century before being bowled within sight of victory. However, Nitin ensured a clinical finish with young Rohan Prasad to knock off the runs with 3 overs to spare.
Sun 27 June Northwood Lost by 24 runs
They 183/7 in 30 overs (James Kenny 55, Sunil Ramachandran 50, Yuv Rao 27, Extras 30, Stefanos Nayar 2/31, Saikat Barua 2/32)
We 159/10 in 29.2 overs (Rakteem Katakey 35, Andy Stokes 34, Praveen Lekhraj 21*, Nigel Hussey 3/15, Ben Sargeant 2/10)
With heavy rain forecast soon after 6pm, we decided to play a shortened 30 over match instead of the usual time game. Northwood won the toss and chose to bat first. KCC were fielding a relatively weak bowling attack, and a strong batting line up on paper, so at the time this appeared to play into our hands, meaning that we could chase down whatever target Northwood were able to post. But surprise, surprise, things didn’t quite turn out like that!
Initially things looked fine for KCC, with Northwood posting a gettable target. Young Northwood opener James Kenny played well for a half century, ably supported by the middle order, but a decent KCC bowling display saw the home team restricted to a total of 183. The required scoring rate of around 6 an over seemed well within our reach, given the strength of our batting, and initially all went to plan. Openers Andy Stokes and Rakteem Katakey took advantage of Northwood’s wayward opening bowlers and after 10 overs they had plundered 71 untroubled runs for no loss. With 10 wickets in hand things looked very rosy, but a change of bowling completely turned things around. Old hand Nigel Hussey, bowling gentle but very accurate, nagging away-swing, rapidly dismissed both openers. And then the floodgates opened. Middle order wickets tumbled and before we knew it, KCC had collapsed to 95 for 6 after 21 overs. 6 wickets had fallen for just 24 runs in 11 overs. With nearly 9 runs an over now required off the last 9 overs, with just 4 wickets left standing, it was too much for the tail and we ended up well short and well beaten. Not one of KCC’s finest moments, to say the least.
Well done to Northwood, who as always were very gracious and sociable hosts, playing the game in just the right spirit. We look forward to trying to make a better account of ourselves in the return fixture next year!
Sun 30 June Northwood Won by 7 wkts
They 198/9 in 45 overs (Sab Ganesh 40, Neil Sargeant 33*, Ram Nandiraju 31, Ranjit Latchman 30, Saikat Barua 3/16, Nitin Chaturvedi 2/24, Wajid Tahir 2/49)
We 199/3 in 33 overs (Nitin Chaturvedi 63*, Praveen Lekhraj 51, Rohan Ghosh 36, Vaibhav Sharma 1/13, Sab Ganesh 1/42)
Our first fixture at Northwood coincided with India v England World Cup match and thus it was a miracle in itself that Tim managed to cobble together 11 players. Considering the context of the World Cup fixture (Bangladesh and Pakistan ‘cheering’ for India), it was an even more astonishing feat that other than Tim, every other player of our multi-nationality team was somehow invested in the outcome of that game, yet turned out for KCC. That is sheer commitment – club over country.
On a beautiful sunny day, we were greeted with a good-looking ground, an even better looking pitch and excellent facilities. Skipper Nitin had implored the team to arrive early for some practice drills and a majority (just!) responded to the call; Brownie points (albeit no SanPoints) for Tim, Saikat, Nitin, Praveen, Rohan and Chris. Even San joined in the fielding and catching session. Encouragingly, Saikat and Rohan did some additional bowling practice as well in the excellent nets. Frustratingly, we still had 3 players so late that the start had to be delayed, but our hosts were very gracious. Nitin won the toss and, as he usually does in a time game, decided to field.
The fruits of the practice session were evident right away. Saikat steamed in from ball 1 and got a wicket on ball 2! KCC never let that intensity go and had Northwood on the rope all along in a high quality display of tight and incisive bowling backed up by solid ground fielding and Praveen behind the stumps taking all the catches. It’s a great sign when all the dismissals were bowled, lbw or caught behind. Saikat, Wajid and Nitin show up as the main wicket-takers but that does not fully reflect the excellent bowling by Eddy, Sumaer and Rohan. Eddy is fitter and faster this season and Sumaer playing after 2 years was on the money, curbing his natural desire for short lifters. A huge shout to Rohan for coaching the bowlers all along with little tips that really made a difference. Northwood batters never really got in but we were very impressed by a couple of their colts. Sab Ganesh in particular looked very compact and, along with Tyler Pearce, threatened to mount a fabulous counterattack but the introduction of spin by Nitin bowling himself took both out. We were somewhat surprised to see an ex-county player come out as No. 11 and he duly extended their score from 146/9 to 198 and even took Wajid to the cleaners in two forgettable overs before the declaration. If Neil Sargeant had come in earlier the situation may well have been different.
Chasing 199 in an anticipated 37 overs, KCC got off to a great start with Praveen and Rohan putting together 88 runs. Praveen in particular was fluent with drives and pulls, but fell right after reaching 50. Rohan was bowled shortly thereafter and then Nitin and Chris strung together a 77-run partnership. Both of them blunted Northwood’s excellent spin attack (made up almost entirely of their younger players) through a mix of defensive shots and stepping out to hit over the infield. The running between wickets was another matter with several close calls; with victory in sight Chris was run out in an inevitable mix up with Nitin. Although guilt-ridden, Nitin completed the formality (and another unbeaten fifty in a chase) with the typically cavalier David Behar, and KCC were home with 5 overs to spare. All this without requiring the services of Tim Keleher who had the whole afternoon to play football with the indefatigable Silas!
Sab and Nitin were MoMs for Northwood and KCC respectively for their all-round performances. All in all, an excellent team performance, in a lovely setting, on a beautiful day with friendly hosts – a fixture that, hopefully, will continue for years to come!